Color Me Kubrick: A True...ish Story

2007, NR, 83 min. Directed by Brian Cook. Starring John Malkovich, Jim Davidson, Richard E. Grant, Luke Mably, Terence Rigby, James Dreyfus.

REVIEWED By Marrit Ingman, Fri., March 23, 2007

Color Me Kubrick: A True...ish Story

Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich. This movie is all about Malkovich lounging in fishnets and pumps, dissolute and reptilian, Malkovich cadging triple brandies from starstruck party boys. “I seem to have left my laser platinum, no-limit American Express VIP card at home,” he shrugs. Entranced, people give him bottles of vodka, hotel hospitality, and Mont Blanc pens; with a flourish, he cosigns a business deal for a wine bar. And why not? They all think his character is film director Stanley Kubrick – who at this point in the “true…ish” story of con man and Kubrick impostor Alan Conway was not yet dead, though he was likely mortified. (Conway and Kubrick died within months of each other in 1998, the film informs.) Besides being bald on top and essentially biped, Conway doesn’t resemble Kubrick, and he knows nothing of his work – a bar hustler tricks him by complimenting Judgment at Nuremberg, which was directed by Stanley Kramer – but, for the most part, he passes, scamming everyone from New York Times theatre critic Frank Rich (William Hootkins, understatedly good) to a lounge-singing protégé (Davidson, overstatedly good). At least at first. Director Cook and screenwriter Anthony Frewin know their Kubrick – Frewin is his former assistant; Cook an assistant director on The Shining, Barry Lyndon, and Eyes Wide Shut – so they drop all kinds of references, the best of which is Conway’s dramatic entrance into a laundrette accompanied by Also sprach Zarathustra. (The front-load washer spins and spins, mesmerizingly.) It’s also a playground for Malkovich – enjoyable enough but not terribly deep, with little illumination of Conway’s behavior. An apparent lifelong liar and alcoholic, Conway seems to draw on his mark's vanity, but the movie rarely pauses for reflection; it just wants to have fun. The structure feels choppy, as well – freewheeling moments of direct address vie with the somewhat sustained subplot of a fashion designer (Mark Umbers) on Conway’s trail – but mostly it’s a pub crawl from con to con. But at 83 minutes, this is a kicky little movie, if ultimately a little too “ish.” AFS@Dobie

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More John Malkovich Films
Unerotic and unthrilling home invasion flick is seriously unsubtle

Richard Whittaker, Jan. 14, 2022

International espionage with a body count

Sept. 25, 2020

More by Marrit Ingman
Wonder Stories
Wonder Stories

July 25, 2008

King Corn
The film’s light hand, appealing style, and simple exposition make it an eminently watchable inquiry into the politics of food, public health, and the reasons why corn has become an ingredient in virtually everything we eat.

Nov. 9, 2007


Color Me Kubrick: A True...ish Story, Brian Cook, John Malkovich, Jim Davidson, Richard E. Grant, Luke Mably, Terence Rigby, James Dreyfus

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle